Oxford MailYou never know who you’ll be sitting next to... (From Oxford Mail)

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You never know who you’ll be sitting next to...

Oxford Mail: Peter Unsworth Peter Unsworth

ONLY an ignoramus would have failed to greet the smartly dressed chap who sat alongside me in the Water Eaton park-and-ride waiting room.

“Good morning,” I said warmly.

He returned the thought and followed it with an unsolicited potted CV – age (62); occupation (recently retired salesman), and place of residence (near Chipping Norton). If you read on you’ll see why I’ve withheld his name. His details delivered, he fell silent, gazing straight ahead to where the grain silo once stood and where a massive mound was now being further enlarged by a dumper truck making regular visits.

For several minutes – it seemed an age – he sat eyes glazed and deep in thought. I decided to break the silence.

“Penny for your thoughts?”

Clearing his throat, he pointed to the mound. “That would be an ideal place to hide a body. I wonder how long it would be before it was found,” he mused.

I was decidedly relieved when our buses took us in opposite directions.

TWO hours later I was in Cornmarket Street, my spirits boosted by the sunshine and the sound of my favourite soprano, Josephine Organ-Jennings, spending a few hours busking before returning to her studies at the prestigious college of music in Manchester. I was vain enough to believe her performance of Puccini’s O Mio Babbino Caro (O My Beloved Father) was just for me.

Not quite so soothing was the tune being tortured on a small mouth organ by a red woollen-hatted chap squatting by the wall of the Randolph Hotel. It might have been Those Were the Days. On the other hand it might not.

Suddenly he stopped, removed his top set of false teeth on to which he squeezed some fixative from a tube before restoring the said dentures to their rightful place. He resumed playing. There was no discernible improvement.

STILL chuckling, I called at New Road Baptist Church for my customary morning cuppa and was offered a pancake being cooked by the delightfully ordained hands of its minister, the Rev Kat Bracewell. The quality of this Shrove Tuesday treat was so good that I was tempted to suggest a career opportunity was going begging. I resisted. She was wielding a frying pan.

PLEASE forgive my mischievous approach this week, but I’m feeling on top of the world. My first call of the day had been to the Churchill Hospital, hoping it would be my last. It was. The consultant who had kept a weather eye on me since my brush with prostate cancer in 2011, showed me the door in the best possible way.

Thank you doctor. Thank you Churchill Hospital, and thank you NHS. Here is one satisfied customer.

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